Under pressure, he’s still “Gallant”


Apparently, the premier of New Brunswick and I are on a first-name basis. He’s 32. My daughter will be 34 this year. I’m turning 55 and feeling every inch the old scold these days.

So, Mr. Premier, you can call me “Dad”, though I don’t believe I’ve ever had the pleasure of actually meeting you directly. Still, at least you managed to get my name right (it’s not Alex, or Aleck, or Ozymandias) when you penned this remarkably courteous and circumspect note before emailing it to my personal inbox the other day:

“Hi Alec – I hope all is well. After reading your blog commenting on the Moncton Downtown Centre and my commentary, I just wanted to clarify why Mr. Goguen (i.e., Robert Goguen, MP for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe) was mentioned in my commentary.”

I’m listening.

“The GMCC (Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce) announced it’s going to mount a lobbying campaign against myself and our government. I was completely surprised that its campaign would solely focus on us and not also target the federal government.”

Yes, yes. Do go on.

“The reason one may say the target should be only our government is because Mr. Goguen has said he is supportive of the project. But I haven’t heard Stephen Harper say his government is supportive. I haven’t heard the regional minister Moore say his government is supportive. And even if one of them did make comments to confirm support, the next question would be why is the federal government not providing a letter to the city confirming funding that would be conditional on the province being at the table? That is how any project like this would work.”

Hmmm. And how does that make you feel?

“The point I was, therefore, trying to make was why is the GMCC focused on just us and not the federal government since neither of us are at the table officially at the moment?

“That was my only point regarding Mr. Goguen. Perhaps I didn’t make that point clearly enough. I will try to do a better job in the future, and hopefully this email will clarify it for you. All the best. . .BG.”

Indeed, “BG”must be the most solicitous premier New Brunswick has ever enjoyed hosting (although history suggests Richard Hatfield and Hugh John Flemming were also pretty fine gents).

But this does not excuse Mr. Gallant from his responsibility to avoid partisan politics when the issue is nothing less than the future of economic development in New Brunswick’s urban jobs’ dynamo.

Personally, I don’t concur with every word that issues from Mr. Goguen’s mouth. He’s a Harper man, trained and true. When he insists that the feds are willing to invest in a Moncton events centre, he likely means that they are prepared to divert necessary federal infrastructure funds from sewers, roads and bridges in the tri-city area to fulfill their end of the bargain. Then, just watch them step through potholes to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, plaudits and honorifics in hand.

But you, dear Brian (if I may be so bold), are better than that. You are already known for taking stands (fracking comes to mind, though we clearly don’t agree).

Take a stand on this one. You have the research. You have the evidence. Does a Moncton downtown events centre make economic sense? Of course, it does. Now say so, and make the project yours.

I hate to be a scold, my son, but at my age it comes with the empty territory where a brilliant meeting place, a gathering space, waits to rise.

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